Preparing the City’s downtown water, sewer and storm water systems for the future is the goal of a plan approved by Aiken City Council this week.

“It is time we finally begin to address our City’s infrastructure needs,” said City Manager John Klimm. “This is the first step in our master plan to address the current and future infrastructure needs throughout the City in a comprehensive way. It begins, appropriately, with our Downtown, which has among the oldest and most critical systems in need of work.”

The City Council on Monday approved the plan to rehabilitate downtown’s water, sewer and storm water infrastructure, much of which has outlived its lifespan. The more than year-long project begins with Phase 1A, the rehabilitation of a stretch of Newberry Street on the southbound side from The Alley to Park Avenue.

While that section of work is underway, surveys will be completed of all the utility systems along Park and Richland Avenues, Laurens and Newberry Streets and the section of Hayne Avenue between Laurens and Pendleton Street. With definitive information in hand, work to rehabilitate and replace infrastructure in the entire downtown district is expected to proceed and be completed in 2018.

The Council voted unanimously to approve funding from Capital Project Sales Tax funds to proceed with early phases of the work and required surveys and engineering evaluations.
The first shovels will be turned on the block of Newberry Street heading southbound from The Alley to Park Avenue.

“We wanted to do a segment that didn’t impact businesses, while at the same time finding out how much it’s going to cost and how long it’s going to take,” City Engineer John Poole said.

Studies and analysis over the past two years have determined that Aiken’s downtown infrastructure has outlived its projected lifespan and must be repaired and rehabilitated.

Despite all the study done on the system thus far, actually uncovering this first segment to determine the true condition of all the systems will be needed to best determine the final needs and costs.

Planned work includes water valve replacement on Newberry Street and another on Hayne Avenue, and service line replacements or reconnections on Laurens and Newberry streets, and Richland and Park avenues.

As work on this portion of Newberry Street continues, engineers will be able to determine the scope of the work necessary on the remaining infrastructure in the downtown area, including the cost and length of time to complete the work.

“Once we determine that,” Poole told Council, “Phase 1B will involve everything else.”
Poole estimates the twin repair and rehabilitation phases would be complete in 2018.”